In Marvel Comics’ Thor movies, Jaimie Alexander plays a mythological warrior who fights alongside her amply-muscled sweetie, the titular Norse superhero. In The Last Stand, Alexander takes down a Mexican drug cartel, standing shoulder to shoulder with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. She wears a badge, carries a gun and blows lots of stuff up.
So what’s this apparently tough-as-nails actress doing in the low-budget, dialogue-driven indie Savannah, playing a well-bred (and slightly sassy) turn-of-the-century Southern woman?
“I really enjoy action,” Alexander explains. “It’s where my heart is. It’s a lot of fun, and I have a great time doing it. “But it is also fun, and challenging, to break out and search for roles that are very different from what people normally see me in. It sort of shows your range — and that’s something I’ve been trying to do over the last couple of years.”
In Savannah, opening Friday, Aug. 23, the 29-year-old Alexander plays Lucy Stubbs, the object of affection for marksman, hunter and town scallywag Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel).
The screenplay, by Kenneth Carter and Annette Haywood-Carter, is based on real people who lived in this area in the early 1900s. Haywood-Carter resigned her teaching position at SCAD to direct the project. Filming took 21 days, at various Savannah locations, in early 2011.
Because of the modest budget, Alexander says, “you really put your back into it. You really have to get creative to make certain things happen. And that’s the best. That’s always a lot of fun.”
Haywood-Carter, she adds, was “very laid-back and easygoing. She definitely allowed us to have a lot of creative freedom with the part, and what we wanted to do with it. But she also had a clear idea of what she wanted. It was good to work with somebody who had a plan, if you will.”
Not much is known about the real Lucy Stubbs — only that she married the tempestuous Ward Allen, over the protestations of her family. The couple lived, briefly, in a large house downtown. She bore a child.
What happened afterwards is covered in the movie.
“As for playing Lucy, I just sympathized with what she was going through,” Alexander explains. “I found the accent just by listening, on tape, to what was typical at that time. It just kind of came naturally; it was almost like a Scarlett O’Hara, if you will.”
The South Carolina-born thespian says she doesn't consider herself a method actor. “I just read the script and sympathize with the character,” she says.
“And while my mother was raised in Carolina, I wasn’t — I was raised in a pretty liberal area of Texas. When it comes to southern hospitality, though, I definitely know what that’s all about. Getting that from my mother.”
Alexander says working alongside Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest) was intense. “He’s very dedicated and extremely method,” she offers. “We do not have the same style of work ethic. Although both of us worked extremely hard! So it was neat to see how he went about things, and his process compared to mine.
“As much as I was around him, he was his character. And that is just how some people work, and they do it well. He’s one of those people.”
Others in the cast include Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster, Love Actually) as Allen’s duck-hunting partner, Christmas Moultrie, and actor/playwright Sam Shepard as Lucy’s well-meaning father.
“I really enjoyed Sam Shepard,” reports Alexander. “He’s a lovely human being, and I’ve kept in contact with him ever since. And Chiwetel Ejiofor is just amazing. He’s a fantastic actor, a phenomenal person, and we got really lucky with him.”
Savannah opens Friday, Aug. 23 at Victory Square Stadium 9, 1901 E. Victory Drive.
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